The War Puzzle

In This Review

The War Puzzle

By John Vasquez
Cambridge University Press, 1993
378 pp. $54.95

This book purports to advance our theoretical understanding of the causes of war by drawing on a broader range of empirical evidence than previous works. Policies based on realism tend to lead to war, the author argues. But like realism, the author's argument views nation-states as disembodied actors devoid of history, culture, ideology, or politics (save for a generic distinction between "hard-liners" and "accommodationists"). The book illustrates how social science methodology can lead to results that manage to be both obvious and wrongheaded. For example, one major conclusion is that wars are fought chiefly between contiguous states over territory. How many states in history have been capable of fighting wars with other than contiguous states?

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